Coronavirus: Weathering the storm

Visitor arrivals halve in February

Tourist arrivals are expected to hit new lows this month, following a ban on all short-term visitors put in place earlier this week.
Tourist arrivals are expected to hit new lows this month, following a ban on all short-term visitors put in place earlier this week.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

The number of visitors to Singapore fell by just over half last month compared with a year ago, as travel slowed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

About 732,000 tourists came last month, a sharp decline from the 1.7 million visitors who were here in January, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said yesterday.

Arrivals from China, Singapore's largest source of visitors, plummeted 98 per cent to 6,000 after a ban on outbound group tours and the Republic's own restrictions on arrivals from the mainland, which took effect on Feb 1.

Visitors from other key markets such as In-donesia and India fell by 46 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively.

Overall visitor arrivals in January, however, grew by 4 per cent year on year despite the virus hitting Singapore's shores over Chinese New Year.

STB chief executive Keith Tan told The Straits Times that January's strong performance can be attributed to greater travel demand from most of Singapore's top source markets in the first three weeks, before the first local case of Covid-19 was confirmed on Jan 23.

Tourist arrivals are expected to hit new lows this month, following a ban on all short-term visitors put in place earlier this week.

Mr Poh Chi Chuan, STB's director of digital transformation, said visitor arrivals for the year are likely to decline more severely than last month's estimate of between 25 per cent and 30 per cent, though he did not provide figures.

Tiffany Fumiko Tay

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'Visitor arrivals halve in February'. Print Edition | Subscribe